Coexistence of insulin resistance and increased glucose tolerance in pregnant rats: a physiological mechanism for glucose maintenance

Life Sci. 2012 Jun 6;90(21-22):831-7. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2012.03.037. Epub 2012 Apr 17.


Aim: The contribution of insulin resistance (IR) and glucose tolerance to the maintenance of blood glucose levels in non diabetic pregnant Wistar rats (PWR) was investigated.

Main methods: PWR were submitted to conventional insulin tolerance test (ITT) and glucose tolerance test (GTT) using blood sample collected 0, 10 and 60 min after intraperitoneal insulin (1 U/kg) or oral (gavage) glucose (1g/kg) administration. Moreover, ITT, GTT and the kinetics of glucose concentration changes in the fed and fasted states were evaluated with a real-time continuous glucose monitoring system (RT-CGMS) technique. Furthermore, the contribution of the liver glucose production was investigated.

Key findings: Conventional ITT and GTT at 0, 7, 14 and 20 days of pregnancy revealed increased IR and glucose tolerance after 20 days of pregnancy. Thus, this period of pregnancy was used to investigate the kinetics of glucose changes with the RT-CGMS technique. PWR (day 20) exhibited a lower (p<0.05) glucose concentration in the fed state. In addition, we observed IR and increased glucose tolerance in the fed state (PWR-day 20 vs. day 0). Furthermore, our data from glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis suggested that the liver glucose production did not contribute to these changes in insulin sensitivity and/or glucose tolerance during late pregnancy.

Significance: In contrast to the general view that IR is a pathological process associated with gestational diabetes, a certain degree of IR may represent an important physiological mechanism for blood glucose maintenance during fasting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Glycogenolysis
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin